Closings, delays and early dismissals

Mount Airy police using new gadget to collect data on speeders

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MOUNT AIRY, N.C. – Mount Airy is well known for its small town feel and “slow” way of life. But, in talking to some residents, you’ll find that there’s a danger which has crept into – or better yet – sped into their neighborhoods.

“If Lulu and I were out walking, we would know that we better scurry out of the road in a hurry,” said Hazel Jessee, who’s lived in the town for about six years.

Jessee’s road is just one in the town being used as a virtual “cut-through,” which people say drivers use to avoid other areas where they may need to slow down.

“About a year ago, we started noticing traffic that felt like it was almost a speedway,” she added.

Sentiments echoed by April Sepeda, who says her father’s truck was swiped by a speeding driver.

“You actually have to keep them on the porch to prevent them from going in the road with the speeding cars,” Sepeda said, of her young children.

With the help of local group Friends of the Mount Airy Police Department, and donations to the group from the community, the police department now has new tools to track and crack down on speeders.

“They got some indication that there were speeders through here and it allowed them to sort of get a range of how quickly people were driving on this road,” Jessee said Tuesday.

One of the gadgets is known as a StatTrack Traffic Data Collector. It is small, and goes unnoticed by most motorists. It is designed to collect the speeds of every vehicle which passes by, allowing law enforcement to monitor where people are speeding.

“I didn’t notice that. I keep trying to figure out, did I actually see anything, and I don’t think I did,” Jessee said, of the device.

Police are also deploying something many motorists have seen; a radar speed display sign, which shows drivers how fast they are going.

The new tools are welcomed sights for people like Jessee, who worry about the people – young and old – living on her street.

“Particularly for little ones running after a ball, or a dog running after a ball, or a cat as the case may be. It’s nice to have some sense of security,” she said.